Modular aluminium profile systems meet the challenges of lean manufacturing
05 May 2017
Modular aluminium profiles are predominantly used to create assembly lines, workstations, machine guards, storage and racking systems etc. The versatility of the products can be better understood if we think of it as industrial meccano.
Whilst many applications and requirements can be resolved with “standard off the shelf” packages there is an increasing trend towards customers who seek competitive yet “made to measure” fit for specific purpose products. If the essence of lean manufacturing is the elimination of waste then the application and design of modular profile systems to create more efficient operating conditions is crucial to a company becoming leaner.
Appetite for customised solutions at affordable prices
Many industries today are populated with three kinds of supplier/manufacturer designing and producing the infrastructures that are required:
Supplier A provides off the shelf standard products – what you see is what you get; no deviation from the spec is possible. Then, at the other end of the scale, there is supplier B who will provide a purpose built, customised solution with no expense spared neither in terms of componentry and material or design considerations. Perfect if this is what you are looking for but just be prepared to have fairly deep pockets as very often such solutions will come at a price.
Then of course there is the innovative supplier who recognises the need for customisation to meet individual needs yet can provide this from a platform of basic standard products and components.
The diversity of products and systems built by MiniTec, a manufacturer of modular aluminium profile systems, can be easily illustrated by these examples:
Reusability, creating sustainable products
Industry has an increasing need and appetite for efficient, ergonomically designed workstations and assembly lines which are robust, safe to use and will last a lifetime. Many modular aluminium profile systems available on the market use specialist fastening systems which, once fastened and locked in place, are not so easy to dismantle and re-use. On the one hand, and this is certainly a view often held in the past, you must try and lock in the customer to your particular brand and design to prevent him from moving away. This protectionist view is no longer so popular and in fact many manufacturers like MiniTec apply the opposite view to create a much more positive benefit for the customer. The use of standard off the shelf fastening systems which require only a standard allen key to lock the profile lengths together means that Minitec can justifiably offer customers a flexible system that can be re-used time and time again in different configurations without the need for a complete rebuild from scratch.
Safety assured with intuitive software aids
Modular aluminium profile systems and components are not complex, yet the design requirements of many customers are often limitless. In this case it is very important that the load and stress bearing capacities of the modular components are not exceeded and that the end product, whether a work bench, conveyor system or even mobile sports seating units are actually capable of bearing the loads that they will be carrying. On-line CAD design packages allow the customer to put together his own design and the software will select the optimum components to meet the design. Additional programs will also calculate the deflection of aluminium profile systems. Values for applications in both vertical and horizontal designs may be calculated and these values for both load and length are stored until the application has been completed, thus making a comparison of different profile systems quick and easy.
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